Some 314 million people in the world, with best-corrected vision, cannot read an 8 mm letter size on a paper held 40 cm away from the eyes.
45 million of those considered visually impaired are blind. In fact, by the time you have read till here, another three people would have lost their sight. And two in three blind people are female.
90% of the world’s visually impaired live in low-income countries. The women there have only half the access to eye care that men do.
In developed nations, women tend to live longer and so are more likely to get ageing-related eye diseases like macular degeneration, cataract and glaucoma.
The tragedy is 80% of cases of blindness are treatable, curable or preventable. Cataract – the main cause of blindness – can be cured with a simple, cost-effective operation.
And a simple eye exam and glasses can restore sight to most of the eight million who are blind due to uncorrected refractive errors like near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism.
One in two did nnt realise regular checks were needed. Almost 18% said it was inconvenient.
Those who use corrective eyewear should get their eyes checked every year, while those who do not, should do so every two years.
Today is World Sight Day. It is held annually on the second Thursday of October to focus attention on the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment.
Adapted from today’s edition of Singapore’s The Straits Times (08/10/2009) with some edited parts to suit the global context. All rights reserved belong to The Straits Times.